No one expects the Spanish Inquisition

Coram Deo has decided to be my Jiminy Cricket, for which I am grateful. I think. Thanks for following the link from the comments at TeamPyro.

| I'm not sure how helpful that
| response actually was, Frank; but
| it was rather revealing.
It always is. It ought to point you back to the other responses on this topic I have given you as well, CD, but it doesn’t. What that reveals, of course, is your own shallow vision of discernment.
| For all your usual ability to
| appreciate fine distinctions, and
| understand nuance, you once
| again lump together an entire
| genre of bloggers (the 95-
| percenters) and caricature them
| negatively.
I have actually already made a very necessary distinction: between reputable people (i.e. – pastors and theologians/teachers with public ministries who do not hide behind aliases and anonymity with a clear view of accountability) and people like you who [since we need to be as specific as possible for the sake of nuance] who are not accountable, are not public people, do not have any regard for the biblical standards for discernment, and who want to be the judges of others without impunity or responsibility.

I made that distinction back when you decided to start your campaign on this issue over at Zach Bartels’ blog. Since you missed it then, I’ll put it here for your review, and you can consider that aspect of your concern answered.

There is a vast difference between being a minister of discernment (a la James White, Greg Koukl, Mike Horton, etc.) and being a loose cannon who simply cannot engage anyone in a way which really is meant for correction rather than self-aggrandization. Because you and your cohorts don’t understand that, it should be the first sign that what you do is not actually very discerning.

Take, for example, this statement:
| Are there some really bad
| watchbloggers out there? Of
| course!
| Are there some that are truly
| edifying and Christ-honoring? Of
| course!
| But there's apparently no
| distinction in your mind.
Now, think about this -- your approach says this specifically: Frank has never made a distinction between good and bad discernment blogs. This is demonstrably false even if I have never given the abridged list of names of examples because I have in fact given the core criteria for telling the apples from the poison. The distinction I have given above is the one I have given you at least once before. But on top of that, I have also given you a short list of examples previously.

So let’s think about how that reflects on your discernment personally:

[1] You have the clear evidence you need to dispose of this statement
[2] Because you have made it before, the very least you should do in honesty is to retract it; the actually-contrite thing to do would be to disavow the statement and apologize.
[3] Instead, you repeat it as if I have never confronted your complaint.

What kind of discernment is that, exactly?
| And it's
| not even as though you caricature
| them as well meaning yet
| miguided Biblically-impoverished
| lone rangers on ill-advised
| Jeremiads. Such would at least
| demonstrate some level of actual
| patience and love on your part
| towards your errant brethren, but
| no.
| You characterize them as a self-
| appointed "magisterium" and
| deride them as subjecting those
| who disagree with them to
| treatment akin to that doled out
| during the "Spanish Inquisition".
Before we get to your next indictment, let’s remember that after giving the clear distinction between watchbloggers and actual apologists, I have then given some specific complaints about the methods and modes of those who are the bad examples.

For example, they are uncorrectable (see above). Not only will they not offer corrections when they are wrong, they are revisionists who delete blog posts and comment threads. They cannot ever offer an apology – in spite of the damage they do to others. It is simply unheard of and unfound in fact.

That sort of activity in the NT was dealt with in the harshest terms, and I think that’s a mandate to do the same when one is dealing with that sort of error. For example, Paul tells Titus that people who are “teaching” but misleading people through falsehood (again, see above) are “detestable, disobedient, unfit for any good work”.

I have not done more than that by any means. What I have done, however, is use a word which they/you will find most offensive: “magisterium”. The offense is meant full force, and I stand by it – until such a time that those who are guilty of it (see above) repent.
| Can you see the rich irony here,
| Frank?
I can – but I think you have missed it. The rich irony is that you demand something of others you have no intention of ever delivering. You want to hold others captive by their good conscience but hold yourself to another standard – one which is disabused of fact and charity and humility.

Look to your mistake in defining my own position, and do something about that if you are remotely serious. Then apply the principles which guide you to that effort broadly. And then you won’t be a watchblogger anymore.

This next part is actually my favorite part, in two acts. Act 1:
| Is it really the love of Christ
| that compels you to sacrificially
| love those with whom you
| disagree by equating them with a
| corrupted body that has
| arrogated to itself the role of the
| Holy Spirit Himself (the infallible
| magisterium) and their work as
| being equivalent to the Spanish
| Inquisition?!?
Given that you and yours, CD, are doing exactly what they did, and making the same scope of errors they made, and eliminating any opportunity for rebuttal, rebuke, reconciliation, or retraction, I would say, “yes, it is the love of Christ which causes me to tell you how far from the true vine you find yourself.”

The evidence of that love is that I am replying to you (again) in spite of your failure to repent of your mistakes toward me, and spelling out in detail what my concerns are. If I hated you, I’d just ignore you as irredeemable.
| Really Frank?
Really. And the next part is the best part, Act 2:
|'Cuz I can tell that
| I'm not feeling the love, brother
| and although I smell something, it
| doesn't smell like the pleasing
| aroma of the love of Christ. It
| smells more like a pair of sweaty
| gym socks that have been left in
| the locker festering for way too
| long.
Now, think on it: what’s that sound like? If we pulled it out of this discussion and just cited it randomly as a response to criticism (overlooking its error and omissions to get to this conclusion), who could this be?

It could be the retort of a careless charismatic who doesn’t actually have any arguments left.

It could be the retort of a KJVO guy who cannot respond to the criticisms of his position.

It could be the first round of responses from an Emerg* advocate.

That is: our mate the Watchblogger finds himself in the same place all people who are doing the indefensible find themselves – complaining about how “unloving” his adversaries are because they cannot agree with him and fully capitulate.
| As far as your much vaunted high
| view of repentance and
| reconciliation, that's a good thing,
| but methinks log should meet
| mote in genuine repentance ...
... which has been demonstrated repeatedly in 6-7 years of blogging in practice through a commitment to offer plain apologies with no qualifications in plain view, and a practice which does not revise the record in order to hide my own fallibility, ...
| ... because (at least on this subject)
| your level of snark and hyperbole
| belies something other than the
| sacrificial love of Christ you claim.
Ah. So sarcasm < > love; but anonymous and a-biblical exercises in character assassinations, and failing read and address the clarifications of those reproached, and thereafter not retracting or apologizing for one’s own errors == LOVE OF CHRIST!
| Think about it.
I have thought about it. This has been the result of that. May it be a blessing to you.


Jim B. said...

Thanks, Frank. I had the misfortune of attempting to engage CD and some of his fellow watchbloggers more than a year-and-a-half-ago (in an attempt to defend my pastor, John Piper).

The exhausting interaction really opened my eyes to how far off the deep end we can go in the direction of hyper(psuedo)-discernment.

I've seen DefendingContending linked to far too often in the reformed blogosphere. I'm glad to see someone finally calling them out.

God Bless,
Jim B.

Jim B. said...

First-hand evidence of Coram's (and DefendingContending's) depressingly "shallow vision of discernment":

ZSB said...

Good stuff, Frank. I love how you are following through on your promise to not back down, as one of the last true street fighters. A true general in the KD empire.

BTW, I have no recollection of subscribing to it, but I somehow got a series of Sunday school lessons you once taught on my podcast feed and have greatly enjoyed listening to them. The best thing about the web (in my opinion) is that long-researched lessons and sermons that took many hours of hard work needn't disappear into the ether after one Sunday...

Frank Turk said...

1 Samuel is a fantastic book for recentering the Christian life.

Phil Naessens said...


I'm in complete agreement with you on the anonymous issue. Zero accountability is my biggest reason.

I'm one of their harsher critics but I will say this for at least "The Pilgrim"; when two roques went to their site libeling me they did remove the comments as well as comments from others who may not like the fact I'm disgusted by what takes place on the "Christian" blogosphere.

Thanks Frank!


Zaphon said...

Sincere thanks for the mature, wise and faithful wounds of rebuke and edifying rhetoric also.

Centuri0n is a true firestarter in the Spirit's power, a real pyromaniac of truth...maybe your name should be Apollos...wait- I know, that would be too cliche.